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BGCI Travel Scholarship Programme

Background

As part of the HSBC Investing in Nature programme, BGCI travel scholarships were offered to botanic garden staff from Mainland China and Hong Kong SAR in 2003-2006.

The travel scholarships were designed to support closer working relations and linkages between mainland China and Hong Kong SAR botanic gardens. The placement of staff in botanic gardens outside of their region promotes the sharing of knowledge, and has led to collaborative projects to further improve botanic gardens efforts to conserve plants in Mainland China and Hong Kong SAR.

2006 BGCI Travel Scholarship Programme (II)

Concepts and Techniques for Native Plant Conservation in Hong Kong

Training Location: Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Hong Kong SAR (KFBG)
Training Course Period: 20 November - 8 December, 2006

 

(1) Scholarship candidate: Dou Jian, Nanjing Botanical Garden Mem. Sun Yat-Sen (NBG)

  • In this process, we have learned the successful case study of the thirty years of efforts in orchid conservation at KFBG, and understood the urgency and necessity of native plant conservation. From the visit of the Tissue Culture Laboratory, Seed Bank, Herbarium and Plant Conservation Laboratory, we learned the importance of grasping modern biological techniques in native flora and fauna conservation. Meanwhile, it was the first time for me to learn about new concepts such as ecological footprint, horticulture therapy, and arboriculture. I gained a lot. Moreover, the scholarship programme arranged many exchange activities such as visiting the Hong Kong Park and the Hong Kong Wetland Park. These visits gave us emotional and spiritual insights.
Participating in public education activities Participating in public education activities
  • For me, this scholarship experience is a process of participation, concern, introspection and action. From the interaction with KFBG staff, we feel that everyone acknowledged and practised entrepreneurial culture, showed respect to flora and fauna, set a good example in environmental education, and planned their environmental education activities very well. All these bring us insights and encourage our thoughts. Every person's enthusiasm and selfless assistance to us let us felt their genuine hospitality.

(2) Scholarship candidate: Han Gui-jun, Xi'an Botanical Garden of Shaanxi Province

  • This training is fully-packed. It was delivered in the form of reports and site visits. During the training process, my scope of horizon has been widened. I gained much and had a lot of insights. Below is a summary:
  • I established connection with many botanical garden staff. This training not only let me initiate relationships with specialists in Hong Kong, but also helped me build very good friendship with staff from 7 other botanical gardens in China. This is very useful for our future exchange and cooperation, and this will be very helpful when these gardens coordinate cooperation across different regions. Connection is one of the major gains of this training. Since plant conservation work needs a macro perspective, reinforcing regional exchange and cooperation is really essential.
  • When we conduct research on native plants, we consider more on their economical benefits. But KFBG focuses a lot on their ecological value. This is an issue worthy of our learning.
  • Mike Kilburn gave a lecture on the nature conservation policies in Hong Kong. I like it very much and it gave me a lot of insights. He let me see that with enough efforts, NGOs or even individuals can influence government policies. This also made me feel the heavy social responsibilities as a plant conservationist.
  • The course on orchid conservation gave us a very detailed introduction to the measures that KFBG took to conserve orchids. This gave me a rather comprehensive understanding on the basic principles and methods in plant conservation work.
Conducting a field study Conducting a field study
  • KFBG infiltrates public education in every single corner of their garden. And all their staff participate in public education. They don't just teach people by mouth, they also practise what they teach, so that people can always learn about environmental education. We should learn from them. During the training in Hong Kong, I can always feel that Hong Kong people are serious and sincere about their work, and they have a positive outlook in life. This is another major gain of my Hong Kong trip.
  • To sum up, this training let me learned a lot. I understood the ecological way of thinking, and I learned to analyse things from an ecological perspective. I will apply the new theories and new methods that I learned in my own work, and I will share my feelings about the training to people around me.

(3) Scholarship candidate: Huang Mei, Shanghai Botanical Garden

I am grateful for the detailed programme arrangement offered by KFBG. Apart from fruitful results upon completion of the programme, the programme also helped to reinforce the exchange among various botanic gardens in China, and the exchange between plant research organisations in mainland China and Hong Kong.

For the purpose of this training title, KFBG provided us with tight schedules and training content, which covered native plant conservation, public education, fauna conservation, South China programme, promotion of agriculture and sustainability. The training was given in a wide range of formats, including text-based sharing, on-site visit and studying tours, and direct participation. As a result, we were able to have a comprehensive understanding of "Concepts and Techniques for Native Plant Conservation in Hong Kong" carried out by KFBG.

Giving a presentation Giving a presentation

The following are aspects where I gained the most:

  • High awareness in ecological and environmental conservation:It would not be incorrect to say that every single corner of KFBG has footprints showing their efforts in ecology and environmental conservation. Inside their conference room, there is no disposable cups; and on the conference table, there is a stack of one-sided sketch paper. All materials used in public education show this line in small print: This leaflet is printed with environmentally friendly ink and recycled paper. Similar examples are endless. From these instances, I learned a new way of living, one that is environmentally friendly. It is far more effective and environmentally friendly to persuade people by setting a good example, rather than repeating slogans.
  • Good cooperation among departments:Perhaps many botanic gardens are looking for ways to enhance interdepartmental cooperation. My botanic garden is no exception. However, this time at KFBG, I witnessed a successful case. KFBG uses Public Education Department (and general science publicity) to perfectly combine departments that seem to have no business with each other. Although each department has its own responsibilities, all departments work towards the same goal to ensure that the work of the botanic garden is done well and effectively.
  • Native plant conservation: This is the theme of this training. KFBG let me have a more comprehensive understanding of native plant conservation. Native plant conservation is indispensable in local ecological and environmental conservation, and an essential component. This has given me new insights about my future work.
  • Public education:I would say KFBG's work in this regard is very successful. Undoubtedly they are still working hard to further improve this aspect of their work. What I observed is that the success is not just the result of KFBG's Education Department, it is also the success of all KFBG members. General science education needs the participation of every member in a botanic garden.
  • Arboriculture:This is a new topic for our botanic garden. It is somehow similar to our plant maintenance, although KFBG's efforts are more professional. This is a programme worth learning.

I will share and discuss what I learned and gained in this training with my colleagues in our botanic garden. Based on our actual situation, we will selectively improve the way we work. We will learn to start setting a good example to be environmentally friendly so that we can influence people around us. I hope that people can see a new and improved Shanghai Botanical Garden in the near future.

(4) Scholarship candidate: Liao Ju-yang, Hunan Province Forest Botanical Garden

Six Main Points of the Training

  • The mission and mentality of KFBG, and the devotion and attitude of their staff are the most impressive for me. KFBG staff are nice to people, positive and optimistic, and have excellent professional ethics. This mental impact gave me the first lesson.
  • The nature conservation network formed by the system, rules and research of native plant conservation in Hong Kong (i.e. overview of tree-planting in Hong Kong; the application of native plants in tree-planting; botanical gardens, parks, country parks, special forest zones, the Ocean Park and marine nature reserves in Hong Kong) is very well-established. It is one of the highlights of the training.
  • From the programme on orchid conservation, I learned a lot of relevant knowledge in the distribution of orchids, the characteristics of orchidaceae, the key reference points in taxonomy, the growth habit, propagation methods and orchid conservation. This has helped to significantly improve my knowledge on orchids, which will be a good foundation for the orchid research and conservation for my botanical garden.
  • From the programme on native plant conservation in Hong Kong, I had a deeper understanding of the experience and knowledge of various aspects of native plant conservation in Hong Kong. In future, this will encourage further studies and research of in-situ conservation of native plants in Central China. The influence and role of botanical gardens and organisations alike will improve.
  • From site visits and experiments, I had a deeper understanding on plant conservation and education work of major parks and gardens in Hong Kong. I also participated in the experiment in seed propagation, helped to draw orchid specimen record, carried out orchid transplant, helped in rearranging pot-plants for better landscaping, and carried out plant DNA experiments. With first-hand participation, we had a deeper impression of our training experience.
  • I had access to and learned three new concepts: ecological footprint and sustainable living; arboriculture management; horticulture therapy.
Participating in an orchid study Participating in an orchid study

Plans

  • I will share with my colleagues at Hunan Province Forest Botanical Garden about what I learned in Hong Kong, via reports, seminars and dissemination of my study materials. So far I have completed the report and shared some of my study materials with others.
  • I will write an essay not longer than 3,000 Chinese words on what I learned and felt during my study period at KFBG. It will be submitted to the Science & Education Division of the Forestry Department of Hunan Province for internal reprinting and sharing.
  • With the plant conservation knowledge I learned during my Hong Kong study, my research work on in-situ plant conservation in China will be enhanced. I will try to obtain more support for the scientific research and support from government organisations.
  • I will maintain and reinforce the connection and communication among our garden, BGCI, KFBG and other botanical gardens, so that we can learn from each other.

(5) Scholarship candidate: Shen Yun Guang, Kunming Botanical Garden

  • Among all the training programmes, those that are more related to my work and more impressive to me are: orchid conservation, fern conservation, conservation of native tree species, seed bank, scientific education, ecological footprint and sustainability living. The first four items are part of plant conservation. Although the focus of each botanic garden is different, their methods are more or less the same. We can learn from each other's examples. I am also impressed by the in-depth and detailed work on scientific education by KFBG. Education activities take many different forms, so that everyone can participate. Such activities are lively, interesting and educational. Ecological footprint is a new concept for me. This proposition helps people to visualise eaiser the consumption of environmental resources by humans. People can more thoroughly understand the importance of environmental conservation and energy saving on sustainable living.
Participating in a plant experiment Participating in a plant experiment
  • Through this 3-week training, I have a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of the missions and work of botanic gardens. The technical methods and techniques on plant conservation I learned can be applied in my future work, e.g. tissue culture and ex-situ conservation. Although the target plant will be different, we can learn from previous examples and make proper adjustments. The education work at Kunming Botanical Garden still has rooms for improvement. Although this aspect is not part of my own work, I can share and discuss what I learned and saw about environmental education with my colleagues. They may have some good insights. According to the actual circumstances at Kunming Botanical Garden, we will make full use of what we have to enhance our educational work and to enrich our environmental education materials. Thus, we can influence more people to love the nature and conserve the environment.

(6) Scholarship candidate: Sun Wei, Urumqi Botanical Garden

  • After this study, I will, with appropriate adjustments, apply new knowledge and date I learned. First I will influence people around me by reports that illustrate the new concepts and scientific methods I have learned. I will compile three reports, one of them will be submitted to BGCI. The second report will be submitted to my direct supervisor so that I can report to him about the details of my studies with BGCI. The third report will be sent to the persons-in-charge of the Urumqi City Science and Technology Bureau, the local Science and Technology Department, and the local General Science Education Department.
  • Furthermore, I will share all the things I learned from my trip to the Hong Kong Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden with my colleagues. I will actively make exchanges with my colleagues about new scientific experience and knowledge that I learned. I will also actively apply new methods I learned in the enhancement of Urumqi Botanical Garden, so that better ways can be used to conserve the rare and endangered endemic wild plants in Xinjiang.
Broadcasting study tour experience Broadcasting study tour experience
  • Lastly, I will participate in various kinds of social activities to disseminate relevant knowledge and scientific methods I learned. My plan is to adopt the approach of organising seminars and talks to teach botany, so as to spread what I learned to those around me and other plant lovers in the community. I hope that the concept of caring for plants and plant conservation can be transmitted to those around me.

(7) Scholarship candidate: Yang Ping-ping, Hefei Botanic Garden

Within the 19 days of training, I felt that every day was well spent and tightly organised. Things I saw and knowledge I acquired benefited me a lot. Below I summarised what I learned in 6 points:

  • KFBG has a good research foundation in native tree planting. They have obtained significant results. They are experienced in every procedure of tree planting from seed collection to planting.
  • KFBG adapts both in-situ and ex-situ conservation to conserve native orchids in Hong Kong. They also conduct propagation in a wild habitat in their Orchid Haven so as to save endangered wild orchid species.
  • KFBG sets up a Fern Walk in order to conserve endangered native ferns with ex-situ conservation, so that ferns can grow in a suitable environment.
  • Organic farming practice can be seen everywhere in KFBG. Even other agricultural organisations in Hong Kong promote organic farming. This environmentally friendly production method is worthy of our learning.
  • The landscape design of KFBG follows the natural terrain of the site. Landscaping is done everywhere, while consistency is maintained. The overall plan and details of their landscape design perfectly complement each other. Many different intriguing presentations were used to show the unique properties of their garden.
  • Public education is very extensive, with new and diverse teaching methods. Teaching content is simple and easy to understand. KFBG staff uses an interactive approach to disseminate the message of plant conservation to the public.
Giving a presentation Giving a presentation

Since Hefei Botanic Garden is still under construction, there is an urgent need to conduct native plant conservation. Therefore, I will continue to raise the suggestion of using native trees in tree planting, developing landscaping in view of the natural terrain, and using native trees in selected landscape highlights, in order to foster better work in native plant conservation. My department is responsible for the repair, maintenance and management of the landscaped zone. For example, on pest prevention and control, I will recommend trying to use more mechanical methods and less chemical solutions. In the topic report I gave to my colleagues, I also talked about these 2 aspects. Hopefully their perception will change gradually, and more environmentally friendly work can be launched.

(8) Scholarship candidate: Zhu Li, Guizhou Botanical Garden

One of the major points I learned is the devotion and focus in plants. We should analyse and think from different aspects and perspectives in order to achieve higher goals in plant research. We should not only focus on superficial work. We should strive to achieve the best results in our work with plants.

Learning how to prepare specimens Learning how to prepare specimens

I have decided that upon my return to my botanic garden, I will tell my superiors and colleagues about things I learned. I will bring books and materials I obtained in Hong Kong to my colleagues to circulate and read. In my future work, I will make use of the knowledge I learned, do my job well, and contribute to keep improving my botanic garden.

I am very grateful to BGCI for giving us this opportunity of learning. It opened up our eyes, extended our botanical knowledge and let us learn many different new knowledge that is not available in our own botanical gardens.

   
 
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